Jeff Gandell’s one-person show, The Balding, produced by Yarn Productions and playing at the Toronto Fringe Festival, is a wonderful tale of one man’s preoccupation with losing his hair and his virginity. And his belief that if he doesn’t lose his virginity before he loses his hair, he never will.
Gandell is very funny, and very self deprecating. He started losing his hair when he was 19, which was the same year that he was determined to finally lose his virginity. Rather than recognizing that he was very shy, not very self-confident, and a bit neurotic, he decided that he was cursed and the only way to undo the curse was to get laid.
It took a year.
And a lot of misadventures. He spent the first three months in Europe doing a lot of drugs, helping to develop plans for a UFO, going to clubs, and dancing quite badly.
Back in Montreal he went to university, wrote poetry, hung out with friends, and had a series of mishaps. I’m surprised his parents let him into their house!
Gandell wrote the piece and I loved his use of language. Unfortunately I didn’t think to make a note of anything specific, I was too busy laughing.
His timing was terrific and at one point he used repetition as perfectly as I’ve ever seen. There were times when I was cringing while I was laughing but never enough to stop laughing. The woman sitting next to me was actually doubled over with laughter a couple of times.
He sang two songs, “Balding has Begun”, a lament to losing his hair, and “The Curse is Lifted”, a celebration of losing his virginity. While he was singing that he went back and forth slapping palms with people in the front row. Very rock star.
He sang with the best Elvis-like sneer. It was so impressive. I wanted to practice in front of a mirror when I got home, but I have to write reviews.
I really admire people who can stand on an empty stage and engage an audience. Gandell engaged us. I loved this show. Add it to your Fringe ‘to see’ list.
- The Balding plays at The Theatre Centre’s BMO Incubator. (1115 Queen St. W.)
- Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- Content Warnings: Sexual Content, Audience Participation, Mature Language.
- This venue is accessible.
- Wednesday July 5th, 06:30 pm
- Friday July 7th, 08:15 pm
- Saturday July 8th, 03:15 pm
- Sunday July 9th, 09:45 pm
- Tuesday July 11th, 06:45 pm
- Thursday July 13th, 01:00 pm
- Friday July 14th, 08:45 pm
- Sunday July 16th, 12:30 pm
Photo of Jeff Gandell by Kiran Ambwani